Endless Benefits, Endless Uses – Coconut trees have been used for thousands of years for building materials, food, oil, milk, water, medicine, a high energy fuel source, and more. (In the 2010 movie Cast Away, Tom Hanks survived on coconuts – so we know how important they can be).
Virgin or cold pressed (non-refined, non-bleached and non-deodorized) coconut oil is often described as a super oil, the “healthiest oil on earth,” and thanks to its important health benefits, it has been declared the new power food. Extensive research confirms that those who use coconut oil are healthier, have less heart disease, cancer, and colon problems than unsaturated fat eaters.
In a Bali Advertiser feature article, Ines Wynn, notes,
“The Health Benefits of cold pressed Virgin Coconut Oil are numerous; its major properties include:
- Nutrient rich: It is nature’s richest source of lauric acid, which protects your heart by reducing total cholesterol and increasing good cholesterol. It has a small amount of vitamins and minerals like choline, iron, and, important for cardiovascular health, vitamin E and vitamin K.
- Thyroid-stimulating: Coconut oil contains medium-chain fatty acids (triglycerides) that stimulate metabolism and give you more energy.
- Diabetes inhibitor: Helps keep diabetes in check. It does not produce an insulin spike in your bloodstream. Instead it helps control blood sugar by improving the secretion of insulin.
- Immune system supporter: The rich lauric acid supports the body’s immune system.
- Candida inhibitor: Coconut oil has a good quantity of caprylic acid in it which is well known to kill off excess candida by targeting harmful bacteria.
- Weight loss aid: Even though it is a fat, it actually helps with weight loss. The medium chain fatty acids do not circulate in the bloodstream like other fats; they are sent directly to the brain
- Brain nourishment: Studies show that it improves cognitive function, and stalls, or even reverses, neurodegenerative diseases in their early stages.
- Skin protection: When applied externally, it forms a protective antibacterial layer shielding the infected body part. Also, coconut oil speeds up the healing process of bruises by helping to repair damaged tissue.
Although refined vegetable oils are now known to have low heat tolerances and release toxins called aldehydes when heated to high temperature, Virgin Coconut Oil is heat resistant and due to its high levels of anti-microbial and anti-fungal properties does not go rancid even after one year at room temperature. Virgin Coconut Oil has no detrimental side effects and unlike other vegetable oils, it does not form harmful by-products.
Worldwide, eleven million farmers in 90 countries grow coconut. Over 80% are situated in Asia-Pacific, with Indonesia and the Philippines being the largest producers. Virtually all these farmers are poor and receive little benefit for their toil. Consequently they are not investing in replanting, and coconut plantations have declined as a result. Possibly as much as 30% of the Indonesian coconut plantation area is considered as senile, meaning very low productivity.
Generally, consumers are unaware that Virgin Coconut Oil may be produced in various ways. Most virgin coconut oil in Indonesia is derived from coconut milk, generally as a by-product of the large desiccated coconut industry [copra]. In the same way, many consumers are unaware that most coconut water packed in Tetra Pak is made from mature coconut water derived from other bulk processing coconut industries.
Image from: <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tetra_Pak>.
However, virgin coconut oil is suitable for human consumption in its natural state immediately after extraction and filtration requiring no return to the original copra trade model of production” (27).
A good link for information about the difference between copra production of coconut oil (the most common and cheapest available coconut oil) and that of virgin coconut oil, go to http://www.naturepacific.com/page/36/learn-about-coconuts-%7C-virgin-coconut-oil-versus-coconut-(copra)-oil
In part, that article says, a villager “first gathers coconuts that have fallen on the ground, cuts the nut in half and removes the white coconut meat. The coconut meat is then usually dried on a rack over a fire (they call them copra smokers) which helps to dry out the coconut meat and it turns a grey colour and has a rancid smell. The biggest and most abundant amount of wild coconuts are found in remote villages scattered across the Pacific and Asia. Sometime it can take up to 3-4 months before the villagers can get their bags of smoked copra to the big copra mills in town. The mills are usually situated 100’s of miles away from these villagers. The copra mills resemble a smaller version of a sugar crushing mill and processing of the copra is similar to that found in the sugar mills. The copra is pressed and because the coconut is very smoky or rancid they use chemicals to bleach and clean the oil. This happens in all the basic edible food oils today in the market place. This is also the reason why this style of COCONUT OIL (Copra) processing became known in the old days as poor man’s oil or dirty oil.”
The writer also warns, “Today because of the high demand for Virgin Coconut Oil many unscrupulous manufacturers [or companies that are more focused on making their shareholders happy] are getting cheap copra oils and running them through centrifuge spinning machines to clean up the oils and also state they are ORGANIC. While the centrifuges remove the smell and all flavour from the oils the Copra COCONUT OIL is a much thicker oil that will NOT quickly absorb into the skin and does contain TRANS FAT. Except for a higher level of lauric acid it is very similar to all other trans fat food oils on the market due to the processing. If you put this type of oil on your skin it is just that OIL and will clog the pores of your skin.”
This is again another example that we should know our farmers and how our food is produced and processed.
However, today “in Bali and other parts of Indonesia, Kokonut Pacific, an internationally focused organization, is actively involved in establishing virgin coconut oil and down-stream value added opportunities [coconut water, coconut skim milk, and coconut flour. . .] for small scale coconut farmers, using an entirely different approach to making Virgin Coconut Oil. By taking the processing right back to the farm level, it enables rural families to produce pure virgin oil within one hour of opening their coconuts. These coconuts are grown and processed locally and organically, without the use of fertilizers or other chemical inputs. . . .
Dr. Dan Etherington – a pioneer of VCO – from Kokonut Pacific Australia, invented DMR (Direct Micro Expelling) technology, a process that produces pure, natural, virgin, cold-pressed coconut oil from fresh coconuts. Currently, this technology is being used in Bali, Java, and Sulawesi where Kokonut Pacific works collaboratively with over 600 certified organic farms in projects designed to be models of sustainable healthy living for the individual and for the planet.
VCO is available in many retail outlets. But be a discerning customer. Not all oils labeled Virgin Coconut Oil are that. Many are mixed with other vegetable oils and the labels do not always indicate that. buy from a reputable palace and avoid the cheap varieties.
If you want to combine being good to your body with being good to your soul, look for SoleOil, an organic VCO marketed by Yayasan Solemen, one of the most visible NGS in Bali.
SoleOil’s story is rather special. Together with the Tree of Life Project Bali it aims to support the small-scale farmer project in Tabanan while receiving Rp 10k per bottle for Solemen’s many projects. The SoleOil project is not only a way to support small-scale farmers, it also is a means to empower rural women whose access to a sustainable business is restricted by their location.
From a food crop to a health crop, coconut is now becoming a sunrise industry. It is best positioned to become the world’s healthiest sustainable plant-based edible oil. At a time when concerns of agricultural productivity and global nutrition form a central part of policy development for all countries, the coconut palm offers an opportunity for a viable alternative to unsustainable, harmful mono-culture agricultural systems. . .
When properly handled, coconut culture means zero disruption to biomass or peat soils. No clearing of rain forest. No displacement of local populations. Coconut palms are a valuable, existing, in ground plant-based resource of healthy nutrition and numerous downstream products.
To read more about Virgin Coconut Oil and the DME production process, go to www.kokonutpacific.com.au
Text from: Wynn, Ines. “The Tree of Life Project in Bali.” Bali Advertiser, 12 – 26 October, 2016, p. 27.
Be healthy. Have coconuts in your life.
Photos from: SoleOil, NaturePacific, & Kokonut Pacific.